Do you feel like hiking the AT has changed your life completely? Do you look at things differently now?
Hmm, maybe? A lot of people go out there looking for that ~life-changing experience. A lot of people find it! I just had a good time. I suppose I do appreciate things a lot more now. Currently sitting in a warm, cozy bed with a dog and IT’S SO WONDERFUL. Showers are also really great now.
Did you run into any people with major health issues on the AT? I'd love to do it but I have type 1 diabetes so I'm worried about carrying my medication and making sure I have enough on me at all times because I'll get really sick and possibly die without it :(
I know there have been quite a few with diabetes who have hiked throughout the years. I don’t have any experience with it myself, but there is a ton of information out there on it. Check out whiteblaze.net - a lot of forums about diabetes and the trail :] - found this one for ya: http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/archive/index.php/t-11545.html
what were your expreriences prior to this hike? Did you do any other very long hike, or you only used to go to the mountains on the weekend (as you said I think)? Do you think there are some skills or any kind of knowledge that someone should have mastered before going into an adventure like yours, or "common sense" is enough and you'd figure it out and learn while on the road? Thanks <3
I hiked a lot, but mostly just whenever I could get out there. I had only spent a week camping in Utah prior to the hike. That was my longest trip. I honestly learned most of what I know now on the trail. Anyone can hike this trail, you learn a lot and everyone is willing to help you. My friend Wingin-It had no prior hiking/backcountry experience before setting out (hence the name) and he just finished a few days ago.
I’d say just be sure to test all your gear before you head out. That’s important.
A name you’re given on the trail. Most everyone uses a trail name instead of your real name. My favorite this year was “Tittycakes” …the guy wanted to be called TDK (Batman) and someone misheard him and thought he said Tittycakes. From then on, that was his name!
So I know nothing about the AT and things, but how did transportation work for you in terms of getting to the start and getting back home at the end?
No problem! It’s different for everyone, but I flew to Atlanta and had some friends drive us to the trailhead. When I finished, I had a ride to Jersey with my hiking buddy’s parents and then took a train home to VA.
There are shuttles you can call, though. And hitching to the nearest town from Katahdin is way easy.
What made you drop the hammock? Weight? No opportunity for use? I'm old (50) and love the comfort. I use a Hennesey Ultralite Explorer (2.5lbs.). By the way, I've really enjoyed following your blog when I have the time. You have a great attitude and remind me of younger members of my family (nieces etc.). Cheers!
Thanks!! I didn’t sleep well the whole trip, but I found sleeping on the ground helped me a bit so I sent the hammock home to drop a pound. Was using a new brand - Butt in a Sling. Great hammocks! Ultra light and cheap.
LOTS of people used hammocks on the trail, though! Definitely do it if it works for you :]
Hi! :) what date did you start the AT? My mom and sis are planning a trip next yr and we all wondered when you started since you kuay recently finished. Love the pictures and the Q's you're answering :)
I started March 8 and ended August 16 - 5 months, 8 days. We took about 25 zero days (no hiking these days).
If I could do it again, I’d start a wee bit later than when we did. IT WAS COLD! Have fun!!
What did you guys talk about the whole time? Or where there long bouts of silence? Music? Basically what did you do while you were on longer stretches of the trail?
Haha, this is a good question. We literally talked about EVERYTHING. Yes, long bouts of silence. Yes, lots of music. Loootts of podcasts and audiobooks. Lots of interesting, topical subjects. Lots of mundane subjects.
I’d have awesome thinking/talking days where I’d be all, “oh this is good shit. I should write this down.” Then I’d have days where I’d think about things like what did Carol Brady do with her time if she had a housekeeper and no job.
Did you do work for stay at any of the huts in the whites?
Sadly, no :( …I wasn’t an early riser and you have to time it just right to get work for stay. We did pay $10 and were able to sleep on the dining room tables in the Lake of the Clouds hut, though. That was fun.
Well, I was late getting a trail name. I got mine in the Smokies and by then, most people already have theirs. I had vetoed a different one and we were hiking along and just talking about high school. I mentioned I was prom queen and badda bing, badda boom… stuck with it forever.
People thought it was funny. But the best part was there was another prom queen on the trail! A fella, no less. He was great.
How much training did you do beforehand? And how much would you say the whole shebang cost?
No training! The occasional weekend hike. I was pretty active beforehand, though. Played a lot of soccer. Some people train, but the trail will whip you into shape pretty quick. Took about 2 weeks to get my “hiking legs” but I didn’t feel fast until Virginia.
Whole shebang - people spend about $3000-$6000 (on average). I did it with $4000 and that’s with student loans.
Can you talk a little bit about how you refilled any supplies, how often you had to go off trail if you did, etc? I only know a little bit about thru-hikes from reading up on the PCT and I'm curious as to how all that works out.
Sure! By the end, we would go into towns every 3 days or so and resupply. I did not set up any drops, though many do. Lots of people plan the entire hike beforehand - one way to do it. I just got enough food to last me until the next town. Only ran out once and was taken care of by friends. When I started, I was carrying 7 days of food and thought I was going to die. This ended quickly :]
I hear it’s quite different on the PCT, as the towns are waaay further apart. Lots of food drops.
In your opinion, what sections of the trail did you find the most physically demanding and challenging?
Physically demanding and challenging - definitely NH and southern ME. NH is hard, but it’s just SO GORGEOUS! Southern Maine gave me the most trouble. Lots of rain. Lots. Plus, I was just very tired by this point. I’d like to go back and section New Hampshire and Maine.
I always wondered, what is the camp situation like on the AT?
I didn’t carry a tent, so I actually slept in the shelters quite a bit. Lots of people would try to make it to a shelter site and camp there. Lots of people would just stealth camp along the trail. In the Smokies, you’re required to stay in the shelters. You can camp outside the shelters if they’re full. It was so cold though, sleeping in the shelters in the Smokies kept me pretty warm.
In the Whites, there are a few shelters and stealth spots. The Whites and the Smokies are the only places you’ll have any trouble camping, in my opinion.
As some of you may know, I just completed an Appalachian Trail thru-hike! I had a blast and thought I’d do an AMA (ask me anything) about the trip since I’ve already gotten a few questions. If you have any burning AT/backpacking questions, shoot! I love talking trail. I’ll answer for the next hour.
PS Currently going through the fuckyeahhiking tag and queuing photos up! Sorry for the lack of posts, not much internet in the woods.